As we head for the end of the summer season, many a fashionista will already be looking ahead to autumn and winter. Particularly canny fashion fans will be looking at the predicted trends – or just thinking about what looks appealing to them (like many of us who swear don’t like following trends) – and scouring current stock to see which items they can buy early and use to lead the trend. This is a particularly good idea when it comes to investment items, because mid-season and end-of-season sales can generate some great bargains.
As you can see in the above photo, George Harrison is wearing a kind of boot that is familiar to us today—a variation of the Chelsea Boots called the Beatle Boots. Andy Warhol’s sketch of the iconic boot is shown on the right!
THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOT
Originating in the Victorian era as a practical female riding or paddock boot, Chelsea boots are distinguished by the elastic sides that run from the welt to the top of the close-fitting ankle seam. This allows them to be slipped on and off easily, which is as useful today as it ever was. Being an ankle boot, Chelsea boots can be worn year-round and this combined with their iconic status makes them an excellent investment piece.
Traditionally, Chelsea boots have been flat-, or almost flat-, heeled, but today’s designers are playing fast and loose with this rule and have developed stack-heeled, platform and even stiletto versions. Many are also experimenting with materials. The traditional boot is of course leather and this still predominates, but there is everything from floral prints through velvet to leopard-print faux leather out there at the moment. Some designs mix materials, with the toe made distinct from the rest of the boot by use of metal, contrast leather or man-made fibers. It’s well worth checking out the current crop of limited edition Chelsea boots if you want to score a pair.
Then what are Beatle boots? John Lennon and Paul McCartney in ’61 were inspired by the Chelsea boots they found during their nights out in London made by Anello & Davide, and so they had made four pairs for the rest of their band, The Beatles to complement their suit image!
The Chelsea boot being worn today:
Chelsea boots can be bought at most price levels, but you will pay more for a very distinctive look. As with most shoes and boots, better quality materials will also be reflected in the price. However, a good pair of Chelsea boots will last you for years, so as long as you do your research and pick a pair that will work with the majority of your wardrobe, any investment is likely to justify itself on a ‘cost per wear’ basis.
Mark McNairy Chelsea Boots (from here)
Never forget that Chelsea boots can be worn with just about anything – baggy trousers being the possible exception – so once you have a pair, have some fun experimenting with your wardrobe. The recent resurgence of grunge means that you can take a pretty retro tea dress and team your boots with that. The monochrome look of skinny black jeans and white top with Chelsea boots is also a classic. Or you could take the look back to its Victorian roots and team the boots with a long steam punk skirt and a adequately layered corset top. The rest, as they say, is up to you.
Melissa Ray is a fashion writer and blogger with long experience of the UK fashion scene. Melissa is particularly interested in customized and limited edition fashion items, such as the current range of limited edition Chelsea boots.
Some notable wearers of Beatle Boots:
- Roy Orbison
- The Doors
- The Kinks
- The Byrds
- The Beach Boys
- Iggy Pop
- Bob Dylan
- The Rolling Stones
- Andy Warhol
- Riff Raff (Rocky Horror Picture Show)
- Sid (Hey Arnold)